Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Did you ever had to read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for English class? Did you find yourself snoozing away while Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy slowly but surely fell in love? Did you wish that zombies, ninjas and bloody battles were a part of Austen’s novel? Well, wish no longer because author Seth Grahame-Smith has tweaked Austen’s classic book to include walking corpses, Shaolin-trained assassins and some sure-fire slaughter!

Grahame-Smith, who wrote the excellent How to Survive a Horror Movie, has injected a lot of action into Austen’s tome and this monster mash-up is perfect for romantics who like a little blood with their love. Grahame-Smith cleverly inserts zombie attacks, ninjas and the “unmentionables” into the polite English society of the Bennet’s and heroine Elizabeth Bennet isn’t just a smart, witty girl anymore…now she also kicks ass against hordes of zombies! She and her sisters have all been trained in the “deadly arts” of Shaolin and are relied upon to protect the countryside. An English regiment has also arrived in town to try and squelch the undead menace (as author Grahame-Smith says in an interview, “…we arrived at Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because, when you take a look at the original book, it’s almost as if, subconsciously, Jane Austen is laying out the perfect groundwork for an ultraviolent bone-crushing zombie massacre to take place. For instance, there’s a regiment of soldiers camped out near the Bennett household. In the book, they’re just there for characters to flirt with. But it’s not that big a leap to say, Okay, they’re there because the countryside has been overrun with what they call the ‘unmentionable menace.’”). Of course, lets not forget the societal mishaps the Bennet family experiences at the hands of the rakish Wickham, the amiable Mr. Bingley and the mysterious and misunderstood Mr. Darcy.  I loved how Grahame-Smith slightly changed Austen’s characters while still retaining their core personalities and actions. He made Elizabeth a highly trained zombie killer and gave other characters varying degrees of skill in fighting the undead. Even after all these changes the characters were still believable as “Jane Austen characters”.

I also loved the violence and gore that Grahame-Smith added! Talk about grabbing your attention! We’ve got half-decomposed corpses stumbling around that the Bennet sisters must dispose of…which usually results in a bloody, gory mess that stains their pretty gowns, not to mention the scandal it causes within the neighborhood! Not only are there zombies, but ninjas also stalk the pages of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Elizabeth has to battle several to prove her worth to Mr. Darcy’s aunt, the Lady de Bourgh. There are lots of wonderfully brutal and bloody scenes and Grahame-Smith really delivers on the gore! And yet, it seems to fit so seamlessly into the original context of the novel!

For Austen or classic literature fans that bemoan that this mash-up tramples all over their much cherished Pride and Prejudice, have no fear. Grahame-Smith masterfully combines his new vision with Austen’s classic. The result is subtle but startling and one thing is for sure…you’ll never look at a Jane Austen novel the same again!

I really can’t recommend Pride and Prejudice and Zombies highly enough. It still retains the biting wit of Austen’s classic work, but it also contains quite a few biting zombies. Seth Grahame-Smith has started an amazing new trend here, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us next! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is an absolute delight to read…perhaps high school students will be able to get away with reading this instead of Austen’s original!

Available from Amazon!

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